Tips to quit smoking
Giving up smoking can be hard, but you can do it. Although it may seem daunting, it can take a few attempts to be successful.
Don’t be put off – just making the decision to quit is a step in the right direction.
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Try these few simple tips to help you on your way:
Take it one day at a time
Take it one day at a time. Focus on not smoking today and don’t be swayed into having ‘just one’ more.
Work out the best way to quit smoking. Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help – seek guidance and support from a doctor or trained quitting advisor. They can help with managing strong emotions and set us on track. The more motivated you are, the more likely you are to be successful. There is loads of support out there – including online, phone and SMS tools. Make a decision on whether to go ‘cold turkey’ (which means stopping abruptly), use nicotine replacement therapy, attend a course or try a combination of strategies. Doctors can prescribe medication together with counselling to help with withdrawal symptoms.
Coping with cravings
Once you’ve made the decision to quit, the first couple of weeks can be the hardest. You may feel tense, tired and irritable as your body adjusts. If you feel the urge to ‘light up’ try the simple four Ds – delay acting on the urge to reach for a cigarette, take a few deep breaths, drink water, and do something else until the craving passes.
Remember: cravings usually subside by week three.
Pick a quit date
Pick a ‘quit date’ and stick to it. Make sure to choose a day where you’re less likely to be under pressure. Plan something nice to occupy your time. Attempt some practice runs – try not to smoke on occasions when you normally would (e.g. work break times and at the pub). Instead, go to places that have no association with smoking. Ditch your lighter and refuse any offers of cigarettes.
Hint: get rid of all cigarettes and ashtrays in the house, car and anywhere else the night before your ‘quit date’. If there are other smokers in the household, suggest they join you. If they can’t, ask them to smoke outside or somewhere away from you.
Deciding to quit
List all your reasons for quitting, (e.g. you may want to save money, gain better health, or protect loved ones from the health risks of passive smoking). The more powerful the reason, the more likely you will stay motivated.
Hint: put your list somewhere visual (such as the fridge or on your phone), and refer to it whenever you feel tempted to ‘light up’.
Every time you resist the urge to smoke, you’re one step closer to breaking your nicotine habit for good so reward yourself for your hard work. Reflect on your efforts and how healthy you are becoming – after a couple of days you’re almost nicotine free and the carbon monoxide in your blood will have dropped. By three months, circulation and immune function will improve and coughing and wheezing will ease. You’ll also feel less stressed. By a year, your lungs will be healthier.
Hint: treat yourself with the money you’ve saved – get a massage, see a movie, buy something nice. You’re doing it tough, it’s the least you can do. Remember, if you smoke a packet a day that’s a saving of over $7,000 in one year!
Plan for tough situations
Giving up the ciggies means a huge change in routine for most smokers. In the first few weeks, try to steer clear of alcohol and any other triggers. For many, cigarettes and alcohol go hand-in-hand. Avoid places where people smoke and try to keep busy. Do something else to unwind – listen to music, meditate, keep active, connect with other non-smokers or try a new hobby. Replace workplace cigarette breaks with a walk around the block, or ‘freshen up’ in the bathroom – brush your teeth, notice how much better your mouth feels since quitting. Be kind to yourself, take it one day at a time.
Hint: have a ‘cleanse’ in the first few weeks of quitting – get rid of the scent of stale tobacco in your house, car and anywhere else that’s going to trigger your cravings.